A City of Hamilton plan to deal with a shortage of health care workers reveals that its temporary nursing workforce has seen a turnover rate of 35% due to COVID-19 “challenges.” 

The Interim Plan to Improve Staff Recruitment and Retention was submitted by Hamilton’s Public Health Services to the city’s Board of Health on Monday. 

“The turnover of temporary new staff hired for COVID-19 since Jan. 1, 2020 has presented staffing challenges for PHS. The most significant turnover has occurred for the temporary nursing workforce at a rate of approximately 35% of all nurses hired for the COVID response,” the report states. 

“This situation is not unique to Hamilton; health human resources continue to be strained across the province and beyond,” the report continues.  “Currently, there are unprecedented labour shortages as a result of both increased competition across all settings and an increasing number of staff facing burnout and mental health challenges as a result of the prolonged emergency response.”

The report blames “high demand” as one of the difficulties in retaining workers but makes no mention that as of October, 1,500 hospital staff in Hamilton faced losing their jobs after refusing to get a COVID-19 shot.  

“Several key positions and skillsets within the public health sector are in high demand making it a challenge to recruit and retain staff,” the report reads. “Many organizations in response have decided to recruit additional permanent staff in response, making temporary jobs unattractive.”

Most recently, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton revealed that those who are not fully vaccinated by Feb. 21 would be terminated. 

True North reached out to the City of Hamilton to confirm whether the firing of unvaccinated workers had impacted the turnover rate for temporary nursing staff. The city’s Public Health Services replied that when it came to their own staffing, “much” of the information contained in the report “is related to the fact a number of jobs were categorized as temporary and had finite terms.”

“When it comes to the policies of local hospitals, you will have to reach out to those organizations directly.” 

As exclusively reported by True North, media and government reports indicate that nearly 10,000 unvaccinated healthcare workers have been sacked by provincial and territorial governments. 

B.C. and Ontario had some of the highest numbers of terminated staff with each province reporting 3,325 and 1,665 fired healthcare workers respectively. 

While Ontario Premier Doug Ford has not mandated vaccines for the province’s health care workers, hospitals and public health units have taken it upon themselves to require COVID-19 shots for their staff.

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